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If the words "hip replacement surgery" inspire a twinge of panic, read on: The topic is cloaked in misconceptions. Dancers endure more injuries on the job than, say, bankers, but are we all-after decades of plies, leaps, and extensions-fated to the operating table by age 50? No, say our experts. Proper mechanics and dietary choices are key; listening to pain and slowing down in the face of injury can go a long way. Interestingly, however, genetics-not career choice-is still the strongest determinant of hip arthritis.
Dance Magazine spoke with Dr. Mark Sinnreich, orthopedic surgeon and lead medical consultant for Miami City Ballet; Dr. William Jaffe, Clinical Professor and Vice Chairman of Orthopedics at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases and an expert in total hip replacement who has helped in their design; and Ruth Solomon, Dance Medicine Research Coordinator, Division of Sports Medicine, Harvard Medical Center. Additional information was adapted from the website of the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries (www.med.nyu.edu/hjd/harkness). The International Associatoin for Dance Medicine & Science also has a helpful website (www.iadms.org).
-Signs of arthritis are decreased range of motion; deep and aching pain in the groin (which refers to the socket) or thigh pain (which refers to the ball) and the surrounding muscles; joint stiffness; increased pain when you are dancing, and continuous pain when at rest. An X-ray can confirm a diagnosis of arthritis.
-Decrease inflammation naturally with a diet high in glucose, fish oils, and Omega-3 fatty acids, says Dr. Sinnreich. Keep bones strong with calcium.
-Maintain flexibility in the hip joints, as well as strengthen muscular balance on both legs. Avoid repetitive trauma when you sense an injury coming on.
-Ruth Solomon adds that pelvis tilts (which open up the anterior hip) and core strengtheners, which stabilize and balance the area, may also help. (Pilates is great for this.)
-If you are too young for a hip replacement, you have a variety of options. With the help of a doctor, you can manage the pain with topical analgesic products and NSAID's (non-steroids), which reduce both pain and inflammation. But remember: NSAID's will mask the pain and can eventually lead to further tissue injury if the area goes untreated.
Years of turn-out may cause hip arthritis: "There have been no studies to my knowledge to confirm that hypothesis," says Dr. Sinnreich. "There are also none to refute it, but I think all dancers would get arthritic hips if this was a risk factor." Dr. Jaffe agrees: "I doubt if external rotation in a finely trained dancer would cause a problem."
I can't get a hip replaced before a certain age: "There is no age limit for hip replacement surgery," says Dr. Jaffe. "But we are reluctant to do hip replacements in young active patients unless they are severely disabled. In those cases we do the procedure with the understanding that they will require additional revision surgery at a later date."
If I dance, I am doomed to need my hips replaced by age 50: Even with all the wear and tear that dancers endure, genetics still play the biggest role in determining whether you are at high risk for arthritis. "If you're going to get it," says Dr. Sinnreich, "you're going to get it."
Hip Resurfacing is a good option for younger dancers: Not true, says Dr. Jaffe. There is a false assumption that hip resurfacing (see below) has a longer lifespan than a total hip replacement (which lasts a minimum of 15 years). Other downsides? Resurfacing does not allow for increased physical activity; the procedure is almost as invasive as hip replacement surgery; and you still run the risk of dislocating the hip post-op.
Labral Tear: a tear in the fibrocartilage that interfaces between the head of the femur and the acetabulum, or socket. "It can get torn with various injuries such as in the extremes of motion that a dancer may encounter," says Dr. Jaffe. A tear can be repaired with arthroscopic surgery. It may lead to arthritis.
Acetabular dysplasia: a congenital condition which results in a shallow hip socket that does not effectively enclose the head of the femur. "In the milder forms," says Dr. Jaffe, "it increases the risk of developing secondary osteoarthritis in adulthood. This condition is much more common in women." Dancers who are naturally very turned out may have this.
Hip Resurfacing: An alternative to total hip replacement. The head of the femur is not removed, but "is ground down to a smaller ball," says Dr. Jaffe. "A metal ball is cemented over the remaining head fragment to articulate with the previously placed, artificial (metal) socket."
A few weeks ago, American Ballet Theatre announced the A.B.T. Women's Movement, a new program that will support three women choreographers per season, one of whom will make work on the main company.
"The ABT Women's Movement takes inspiration from the groundbreaking female choreographers who have left a lasting impact on ABT's legacy, including Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp," said artistic director Kevin McKenzie in a press release.
Hypothetically, this is a great idea. We're all for more ballet commissions for women. But the way ABT has promoted the initiative is problematic.
Some dancers move to New York City with their sights set on a dream job: that one choreographer or company they have to dance for. But when Maggie Cloud graduated from Florida State University in 2010, she envisioned herself on a less straightforward path.
"I always had in mind that I would be dancing for different people," she says. "I knew I had some kind of range that I wanted to tap into."
On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.
We all know that the general population's knowledge of ballet is sometimes...a bit skewed. (See: people touching their fingertips to the top of their head, and Kendall Jenner hopping around at the barre.)
Would your average Joe know how to do ballet's most basic step: a plié? Or, more to the point, even know what it is?
SELF decided to find out.
New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.
Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.
Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:
When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.
For 17 years, James Samson has been the model Paul Taylor dancer. There is something fundamentally decent about his stage persona. He's a tall dancer—six feet—but never imposes himself. He's muscular, but gentle. And when he moves, it is his humanity that shines through, even more than his technique.
But all dancing careers come to an end, and James Samson's is no exception; now 43, he'll be retiring in August, after a final performance at the Teatro Romano in Verona, where he'll be dancing in Cloven Kingdom, Piazzolla Caldera and Promethean Fire.
The wait for Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of Petipa's Harlequinade is almost over! But if you can't wait until American Ballet Theatre officially debuts the ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 6, we've got you covered. ABT brought the Harlequinade characters to life (and to the Alder Mansion in Yonkers, NY) in a short film by Ezra Hurwitz, and it's a guaranteed to make you laugh.
When an anonymous letter accused former New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins of sexual harassment last year, it felt like what had long been an open secret—the prevalence of harassment in the dance world—was finally coming to the surface. But the momentum of the #MeToo movement, at least in dance, has since died down.
Martins has retired, though an investigation did not corroborate any of the claims against him. He and former American Ballet Theatre star Marcelo Gomes, who suddenly resigned in December, were the only cases to make national headlines in the U.S. We've barely scratched the surface of the dance world's harassment problem.